Conor McGregor has fanned the flames ahead of his showdown with Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone at UFC 246, suggesting he could beat him even while ill.
The pair will face off on January 18 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in the headline bout of the event.
In an interview with ESPN's Ariel Helwani, McGregor explained his decision to fight Cerrone at welterweight rather than lightweight:
The Notorious explained on Friday he was underweight for the 170-pound bout at just over 160 pounds. Asked why he did not make Cerrone come down to 155 pounds, he said: "I know I could have, I just don't think he looks well at 155...he's a 170 fighter."
Pressed on whether he wanted Cerrone to "suffer" at 155, McGregor added: "Why would I want someone to [suffer], I don't care, no. I could beat him any bleeding [way]. I'd beat him at any weight, I'd beat him when he bleeding, I'd beat him if I had the flu."
However, despite that comment, he also spoke of his respect and appreciation for Cerrone as a prolific fighter and a family man.
He's eagerly anticipating his return to the Octagon against the American, too: "It's an exciting bout," he said. "It's a fan-friendly bout, it's a fight that excites me."
McGregor added: "It's gonna be a good night, and I'm gonna shine here on January 18. I'm gonna create magic in the Octagon like I have done many times before, but this is gonna be something special."
His coach, John Kavanagh, is expecting him to do just that:
The 31-year-old has fought just once in the UFC since 2016. He took on Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018 for the lightweight championship—which he had won against Eddie Alvarez in his previous fight before being stripped of it because of inactivity—but submitted in the fourth round.
McGregor has fought just twice at welterweight, in his two matches with Nate Diaz in 2016. The Irishman lost the first via second-round submission, but he won the rematch via majority decision.
Cerrone has spent time at welterweight and lightweight, and he has 50 fights under his belt in MMA. Of those, he has won 36, lost 13 and has one no contest.
Cowboy has lost his last two bouts, against Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, but as the fighter with the most wins (23) and finishes (16) in UFC history, he should not be taken lightly.